Social media is a great way to acquire new clients. But which platform is best and which is underutilised?
Steve Carroll is a real estate industry thought leader, founder of charity Digital Live, and avid user of social media – for networking uptime and personal downtime.
In this video, Steve and I discussed which social media platforms offer the most potential for real estate agents, alongside how the internet and social media have changed our work and social lives forever.
Click below to watch the video.
Following is the video transcript.
So Steve, you’re a comedian and an actor and you’re famous for The 40 Year Old Virgin, is that right?
Indeed, a comedian without question. I’m a funny English man.
I always wondered whether you get mistaken for Steve Carell.
I got introduced once at a conference as the very famous Steve Carell, but of course, it is spelt differently. So my surname, Carroll, originates from Ireland.
Oh, interesting. I’ve been dying to say that to you for a year.
The 3 big social media platforms for agents
What’s your favourite social media platform and why?
I enjoy all of them, to be honest with you, I probably post more content on LinkedIn. I think a lot more about the content that I put on LinkedIn, because without question, it’s a professional site.
I like Instagram, because you get a photograph, and it’s really quick and easy. Facebook, I tend to keep more for friends and family back home. So, I like all three of them, but I probably put more energy into LinkedIn.
Right, I noticed that as well, and that’s your voice, because LinkedIn is where you’re really pushing what you’re doing and what you’re involved in. So it’s interesting that you’re using them all for different purposes.
Well, it is the one thing that we talk about a lot, and that’s the importance for real estate agents to understand that each of those platforms has a part to play. And, you know, often agents get it wrong. And they copy and paste content from one platform to another, and that’s not the way to do it.
You know, you’ve got to really think about the recipient of the information that you’re sending out too. So on LinkedIn, people who connect with me are expecting to be educated and informed, they want to learn stuff from me. So obviously, you know, I think about that. I think with Instagram, it’s just a bit of fun.
So thinking about the platform is really, really important. And obviously, if I preach that, I need to try and practice it.
Interestingly, LinkedIn’s biggest users from an advertisers perspective are universities, education businesses and the MBAs. They also have lynda.com which they own, and it’s all Microsoft owned these days. So it’s all about peer to peer education.
LinkedIn is great for building relationships
Yeah, absolutely. And I’ve built a lot of relationships, business relationships, and connections via LinkedIn. And a lot of people reach out to me and say, “Look, what do you think about this, or what do you think about that?”, and often, I’ll take those conversations offline.
And that can be a bit tiring because, for example, yesterday I had somebody I’m connected with on LinkedIn asked me what they should do to build a prominent digital footprint. Now, I just sent him my number. I said, “Hey, look, just give me a call.” And we had a really good conversation.
Now, that probably took 15 minutes of my time. But I do believe that if you want to play in that LinkedIn space, and you want to position yourself as a thought leader, or as an ambassador, you have to be prepared to help people who reach out to you.
And I think that LinkedIn is the platform that helps you build a reputation without question, and so many real estate agents do it so badly. I mean, I’m shocked at the number of real estate agents that are not even on LinkedIn, absolutely shocked.
There’s definitely a lot more than they were a couple of years ago.
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s an increase in number, but everybody’s on Facebook, everybody’s on Instagram. Most real estate agents don’t particularly make the most of Instagram and Facebook, but LinkedIn, most people are not on LinkedIn. We just heard Matt Lahood talk. Matt Lahood is good at using LinkedIn. So it’s definitely a tool that can help you build business and build followers.
Yes. I work with commercial clients and it’s perfect for them. LinkedIn is the space that they play and provide educational content well.
But with the residential real estate agents, like you were saying, they are mainly active in the Facebook world. And now that they’ve moved to LinkedIn, they’re simply posting the same content. They’re posting the signboard with the sticker. Or posting a long list of their open home times, and when you try to read it on mobile you have to squint to look.
So yes, I agree that with LinkedIn it’s got to be educational content – you’re spot on.
Look, I think the other great thing about LinkedIn is you can build international connections. I’ve built international connections from Europe, from Scandinavia, from the United States through my LinkedIn content. The world’s a small place. LinkedIn is definitely the way to go.
And in certain parts, you know, Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane, there’s international buyers, right? WeChat is another way to reach international buyers. We’ve got to think unilaterally.
Okay, so what’s the most fun digital tool that you use in your everyday life?
It would be Facebook. I mean, I know you may not class Facebook as a tool. But Facebook is probably the social media site that makes me smile most during the day.
The place that I spend most time on, would be the BBC website. I love the BBC website for news because I think it’s authentic and it’s real. That’s just my view. Lots of people will disagree, but the BBC, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram are the platforms that I use the most, but the one that gives me the biggest smile, regularly, would be Facebook.
What you post online, stays online forever
If I Google you, would I find any dirt?
I don’t think so, I think you would have found a lot of dirt if Facebook had been invented earlier. Because certainly during my 20s, when I was playing a lot of rugby, there were amazing things or antics that we would get up to. But they were the days before mobile phones, thankfully.
I pity people growing up in their teens and 20s now because there is no hiding place. I got all that sort of immaturity and drinking games out of my system before social media technology really took hold. So I think you’d struggle today.
I’m in the same boat as you. Mine’s all on celluloid, and it’s all safely in photo packs.
I’ll tell you what is interesting, and it’s a serious point, is that more and more employers are checking out potential employees on social media, and they’re doing a check before they actually offer them the job.
One thing I tell my teenage children is, you have to be really conscious of what you post, what you like and so on. Because at some point, you’re going to apply for a job. And the more switched on employers are doing a social media check to see whether or not you’ve got any particular views or political biases that may or may not be good or bad for their working culture.
So your digital footprint is absolutely, massively important, and there’s a really big opportunity for somebody to work with secondary school kids who are 13, 14 and 15, to get them to understand that what they’re posting is forever.
It’s a bit like a tattoo. If you put a tattoo on your neck, that tattoo is there forever. If you say something online that is controversial, that is there forever. It’s a very, very important point.
Yes, what goes on social stays on social media. What goes on the internet, stays on the internet. So very true.
Interestingly, after I’ve spoken on stage, at various conferences, I usually have somebody hanging by the doorway to talk with me. I get a queue of people that want to ask questions afterwards. And then as I exit the room, there’s usually somebody waiting there that says, ‘Hey, Mel, I just want to ask you, I’ve got a friend who has something on the internet that they don’t want and it keeps coming up on page one’.
Ratings and reviews are your best or worst friend
I think that’s a really interesting point that you’ve made, because ratings and reviews are going to be a really significant part of all business. Think about all the opportunities that you have now to check out, lets say, an Uber driver before you decide to actually make that booking, or check out a hotel through TripAdvisor.
You’re familiar with Glassdoor. Glassdoor is an app that enables former employees and current employees to rate their boss and rate their company, their culture, their pay structure, the good things and the bad things. And, whether or not we like it, that’s going to be a big part of the way that we work as we move into the next decade.
I think one of the skills that we all have to get our heads around is when somebody says something negative about us online, that will be there forever. How do we actually deal with it? Obviously, one option is to ignore it, or another option is to constructively answer. What agents and business people shouldn’t do is get all fired up and start a rant online because again that’s going to be there permanently and in the long run won’t look good for you.
It’s the property managers that have the biggest struggle in this area, more so than the sales agents. Sales agents find it relatively easy to keep that squeaky clean appearance online, whereas the property management team can end up with more negative reviews.
I’m an investor and a landlord and I look up the tenants online when we have an application. Because I’m a digital person, I go straight to social media, search Google, and try to get an idea of who that person is that will be living in my property. So I stalk my tenants before they move in!
And tenants, when they have gripes they can’t get resolved with the property manager, or they’re unhappy with something that the landlord hasn’t done for them, then they’ll head straight to social media, and they’ll leave lots of bad reviews.
So it’s the property management team that has to deal with this negative review issue the most.
That’s a good point.
And look, one of the things that we’re working on together is the Digital Live program. And one of the breakout sessions that we will run is how do you actually deal with bad or negative reviews? They are topics that, you know, we have to address because they are very, very relevant topics.
And look, I was once given a great piece of advice (and it sticks with me) and it’s the word ‘intention’. So using the words ‘our intention is’ or ‘our intention was’, when you’re dealing with something really negative, it’s firm but it’s also polite. It’s one word from the English language that’s worth keeping in the back of your mind.
About this video series
Hoole.co’s video series brings together the best digital and social media minds in the real estate industry, to share the wonders of the web and the magic of mobile. Subscribe to Hoole.co or follow us on social media for free tips and tricks to grow your reputation and attract prospects, digitally.